Office Chair Facts – Five Things you May not Have Known About Your Office Chair
Office chairs play an important role in the modern-day workplace. While most people are familiar with their purpose and function, there are probably some things you don’t know about them that may surprise you.
Office Chair Fact #1 – The Right Office Chair Can Protect Against Injury
Office chairs provide more than just comfort. They protect workers from physical injury.
Sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on the body, resulting in muscle pain, joint stiffness, aches, sprains and more. One such injury that’s commonly associated with sitting is coccydynia. This isn’t a specific injury or illness, however. Rather, coccydynia is a catch-all term used to describe any injury or condition involving pain in the tailbone (coccyx) area.
The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) explains that coccydynia is usually characterized by stress of the tailbone and/or its supporting ligaments and muscles. So, how exactly does the right office chair protect against this type of injury? Well, sitting in a chair with a hard, unsupportive bottom will stress your tailbone. Over time, this constant stress can strain your coccyx and eventually lead to coccydynia. A high-quality office chair should feature a soft, supportive seat cushion to minimize stress on your tailbone.
Furthermore, the right office chair can protect against back injuries like lumbar strains. As you may know, the lumbar spine is an area of the lower back where the spinal column begins to curve inward. Here, vertebrae are supported by ligaments, tendons and muscles. When these supportive structures are stressed beyond their limit, it creates a painful condition known as a lumbar strain.
Thankfully, many office chairs – except for entry-grade task chairs – are designed with extra support for the lumbar back. The additional material creates a supportive area for the worker’s lower back; thereby, reducing the risk of lumbar strains and similar injuries of the lower back.
Office Chair Fact #2 – Office Chairs are Designed with a Focus on Ergonomics
Office chairs are now designed with a focus on ergonomics, meaning they are optimized specifically for human use.
Ergonomics became a hot topic in the 1970s, during which employers acknowledged the importance of designing workplaces to meet the needs of the human worker. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were widely rampant in the 1970s workplace. In response, employers began to design their workplace to minimize stress on workers and create a safer environment.
Among other things, this led to a redesign of the office chair. Ergonomic office chairs are designed with strict specifications to ensure the utmost comfort and support for the worker. They typically contain adjustable armrests, an adjustable heat, lower back support, and a soft seat cushion.
Office Chair Fact #3 – Office Chairs Affect Employee Productivity
In addition to protecting against injury, the right office chairs can also improve workers’ productivity. This, of course, is something from which all employers and managers can benefit.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers who clock eight hours a day are typically only productive for two hours and 53 minutes. When they aren’t working, they may browse the Internet, update their Facebook status, gossip, play on their smartphones or simply “zone out.”
You can encourage higher productivity in your workplace, however, by investing in high-quality office chairs. According to a study cited by the University of Southern California (USC), employees are 17.5% more productive when working in an ergonomic setting. A separate study cited by USC researchers suggests that workers are 17.7% more productive when given a highly adjustable office chair.
Office Chair Fact #4 – High-Quality Office Chairs are a Smart Investment
Some business owners are reluctant to buy new office chairs, viewing it as an unnecessary expense that will hurt their finances. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however.
While buying new office chairs requires money, it’s a smart investment that pays off in the long run. As previously mentioned, high-quality office chairs can protect workers from injury and promote higher levels of productivity. Because of this, purchasing new office chairs is typically a smart financial investment that allows business owners and office managers to save money.
Like desks, file cabinets and other office furniture, office chairs are also typically a tax-deductible expense. Assuming you use them strictly for business purposes, you can usually write them off as an expense on your taxes. Whether you buy one new office chair or 20, you can write them off on your taxes. Just remember to save your receipts for accounting purposes.
Office Chair Fact #5 – Armrests Were Once a Controversial Feature in Office Chairs
Most office chairs have armrests on which workers can rest their forearms. However, this was once considered a controversial feature.
On its website, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) explains that office chairs in the past typically didn’t feature armrests because it prevented workers from getting close to their desk. If a worker was sitting in a chair with armrests, the armrests may prevent him or her from sliding up to the desk. Thanks to advancements in office chair designs, though, this is no longer a problem.
Office chairs today are usually designed with armrests that extend 10 inches or less from the back of the seat. This relatively short armrest allows workers to rest their arms while also moving their chair close to the desk.
There’s a good reason for using an office chair with armrests: it takes some of the load off the worker’s shoulders and neck. Without armrests, there’s nothing to support the worker’s arms. So, the worker’s arms will essentially pull down his or her shoulders; thus, increasing the risk of muscle aches and pains. Armrests are a simple and effective solution to this problem, offering support for the worker’s arms.
After reading this, you should have a better understanding of office chairs and why they are such an integral part of the modern-day workplace. From single-person start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, businesses big and small use office chairs in their daily operations.
Source credits in full: https://blog.officechairsunlimited.com/10-things-didnt-know-office-chairs/